People and programs
Trudy Metcalfe, one of only a handful of Inuit chefs in Canada, originally left her home in Ottawa to go to the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre to cook.
“I was a little hesitant at first to be away from home for so long. But at the same time, it was a position that calls to me because I love to cook. I love to cook for community. And I like being up in the North.”
She stayed for six months. Then, a few months after returning home, she was asked to come back for another year to serve as a peer advocate in the centre’s Community Advocacy Office.
She’s always been an advocate, for herself and others, so naturally she said yes.
“I'm not somebody who's just going to take no for an answer or take no answer. I have a strong voice. I'm not afraid. So, I'm the type of person who says: there's an answer. Let's find a way that it can be done.”
That’s what the Community Advocacy Office is there for. To find ways to connect people to the help they need—from public housing to legal services to mental health support.
Trudy’s entire career has been in the Inuit community, and she knows how difficult it can be for people who’ve experienced a lot of trauma to navigate “systems.” So, when people need to get to a better place she helps them find the resources to get there.
“It's a known fact that Indigenous peoples don't receive the same services at the same level as non-Indigenous people in various areas in Canada. Even up here, even though we're in the territory, there's still that racism. And for some having to fight all the time is too much, especially if you have to do it alone."
As Trudy explains, food insecurity is a serious issue in the North. The cost of bringing food up from the south, especially fresh food, is out of reach for many people. So providing a daily meal, a healthy food market, and purchasing country food from hunters for the community is very powerful.
Just being there is a big part of her job. “People come here. They come here for the food, yes. But they also come here to meet up with other community members. They come here because it's a welcoming place. They come here because it's a place to warm up during the winter.”
Trudy sees that the most important thing is having that sense of community, a sense of belonging, where people have been coming to the same space for years and years and years. “So, people come in, and they know who we are. They know that we're there. They know that we're welcoming. And we're always there.”